Thursday, August 23, 2012

1879 at Fort Omaha, Nebraska

History lovers learn a couple of things fairly early on. One is DON'T TOUCH ... another is ASK before taking photos. I learned the last rule when I was a nineteen-year-old student standing atop this staircase staring with wonder up at La Victoire de Samothrace. Had Paul seen her on one of his journeys? I had to have a photograph. To remind myself that I'd been here. Happily, French docents seem less likely to toss a person out on their ear if they happen to be a pretty nineteen-year-old. I survived the scolding, but I had learned the rule. Never forgot it, either.



So imagine my amazement when I visited the gorgeous 1879 Victorian home pictured on the left a couple of Sundays ago and was invited to take all the photos I wanted to take ... to sit on the furniture ... so hold the teacup ... even to play the piano. The General Crook House at Fort Omaha, Nebraska, is heaven for the history-lover, and especially wonderful for someone like me who has to create imaginary worlds for her characters to inhabit.

The house would have been three-and-a-half miles outside of Omaha when it was built. "On the frontier," the docent explained. Presidents Rutherford B. Hayes and Ulysses Grant both stayed at this house (I'll show you the guest room in my next post).

I have authentic house plans ... books of them. But there is nothing like 3-D to get my imagination going. That wallpaper! That arched doorway! That silver tea set! That lamp! That chandelier ... and the fireplaces burned coal.  Now I know how my people heat their house.

This is the piano I played. An 1858 model. And it was in tune.
I'll just share a few highlights, but if you are ever near this place and you love the Victorian era ...  you MUST GO. I'm going back at Christmas. Or before. Because it was impossible to see everything. I want time to savor. To close my eyes and imagine.

A step back in time ... although I wouldn't want to go back. I also saw the maid's quarters ... which is where I would have lived.


Everyday china in the breakfast nook.

MORE SOON! ..............................................Stephanie











And the view of the garden from the breakfast nook. 


11 comments:

  1. I love that view of the garden. Looks like a great place to experience the past first-hand.

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    1. Deb, share the link to your page about author's gardens. I bet our reader would love to visit.

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  2. Didn't you love the woodwork? The walls are covered with something called anaglypta - a type of wallpaper that looks like leather. Let us know when you come up to visit, Deb!

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  3. The flowers in the garden are heirloom plants that would have been available to Mrs. Crook. I loved that little tidbit of authenticity.

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  4. Thanks for the new word, Cathy. I didn't know "anaglypta." And, yes, the woodwork ... and that wallpaper. Especially the border print. Hand-colored after application and then sealed so that it was virtually indestructible.

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  5. I love posts about history!! And I do adore the photos as well. :) I love visiting places like this. It helps put me right in the middle of the story I'm writing.

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    1. I agree, Dawn. There's nothing like being able to visit a site. Sometimes doing so answers questions we didn't know we should ask :-).

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  6. This is my first visit to your blog Stephane and I really enjoyed reading this. I love old historical building and places. Of course I love the Louvre--I'm a French teacher! Your story is most charming and I'll be visiting again. :-) I'll check out your books as well.
    http://www.writemomentswithgod.blogspot.com

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    1. J'ai enseignee le francais il y a quarante ans. Bienvenue a le blog! And now I'd better revert to English, especially since I am missing all those accent marks on the preceding note. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post, Rose. Thanks for joining us!

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  7. Stephanie, I apologize for the typo in your name. :-) Stephanie Grace.

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    1. No worries, Rose. I didn't even notice. By the way, I know you said you love history, but you might also enjoy A Garden in Paris, one of my few contemporary novels. Out of print sadly ... but try the library perhaps. J'adore Paris ...

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